The first of my two trips out of Okayama was to the town of Kurashiki, which is about 15 minutes east of Okayama by train. Kurashiki used to be a major hub for the storage and transportation of rice, and the city’s name roughly translates to “town of storehouses.” Rice from the surrounding regions would be brought to Kurashiki for storage before it was shipped off to some of Japan’s major cities. I had come to Kurashiki to see a preserved section of a canal that used to be part of the network that ferried rice around the town.
When the transportation of rice shifted away from Kurashiki’s canals this part of town ceased to be a major commercial center but in more recent years the canal area has been revitalized and today it is called the Bikan Historical Quarter. The former storehouses—which can be identified by their white walls and dark roof tiles—have been turned into shops, museums, and cafes that cater to both locals and visitors. Weeping willow trees line the canal and small tour boats cruise the calm waters. The day I visited Kurashiki it was really cloudy, so my photos weren’t as nice as they would have been with blue skies and brilliant light, but the canal area was still a really scenic spot that I enjoyed exploring.